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Toyota Unveils Redesigned Estima Minivan

Toyota will redesign the gasoline-electric hybrid version of the Estima for domestic sales in Japan later this year.

Published: 16-Jan-2006

TA Motor Corp, Japan's largest carmaker, priced its new Estima minivan higher than Honda Motor Co's Elysion and Mazda Motor Corp's MPV models, expecting that the model's first revamp in six years will spur sales.

Toyota will sell the Estima for between 2.67 million yen (US$23,420) and 3.58 million yen starting yesterday with a monthly sales target of 7,000 units, the Toyota City, Japan-based company said. The minivan comes with two engine options of either a 2.4-liter or 3.5-liter engine.

The Estima competes with at least six minivan models made by four other Japan-based carmakers in a market where 1 million units are sold every year, according to an estimate by Credit Suisse analyst Koji Endo. Toyota will redesign the gasoline-electric hybrid version of the Estima for domestic sale later this year. "With improved quality, better styling and features, we think the Estima can help us increase market share in the minivan market," Toyota's President Katsuaki Watanabe said yesterday in Tokyo.

The Estima's sales fell 37 percent last year to 35,108 units while Honda's Elysion declined 26 percent to 22,401 and Mazda's MPV dropped 22 percent to 25,224, according to figures by the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.

Toyota plans to export the minivan to three regions, Asia excluding Japan, the Middle East and Oceania, starting as early as next month, and expects to sell 2,000 units overseas a month, Watanabe said. The automaker has sold a total of 1.3 million Estimas since 1990, when the model was first released. In 2001, the automaker released Estima's hybrid version, its second hybrid after the Prius.

Shares of Toyota, the world's biggest automaker by market value, fell 1.5 percent to 5,880 yen at the close of trading in Tokyo yesterday. Honda's Elysion, equipped with a 2.4 or 3-liter engine, is priced between 2.4 million yen and 3 million yen in Japan.

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